Saturday, November 27, 2010

album : madison’s dance-pop on 'the noise some people make'

It may still be a long time coming (January 11, 2011), and it may not have anything to with Oregon (except for the recent RAC remix) or even the West Coast, but Madison’s debut EP, The Noise Some People Make, is electro-hot. And it may be only four swift songs, clocking in at under 13 minutes (we have two of them for you below!), but they’re soon to be burning up the dance-pop charts across the country.

With the same spunk and blonde eye-appeal as Norway’s Annie, Madison comes to us from NYC via Miami with her self-proclaimed “high fashion for lowbrows” first exposed with sunny, faithful love on her single "#1" (below), which mixes the sexiest, breathless moments of Goldfrapp with poppier synth lines.

Thumping electro flatulence and acoustic plucks mark the opening of a building dance jam where clever, sensual lyrics coax you to keep the “Lights Low” because “this ain’t no church, there ain’t no steeple.” Although the third track “Superwoman” loses traction due to its lack of lyrical originality, it is ripe for radio play as it perfectly fits somewhere between Britney and Gaga. With posh, Kardashian talk of glitterati, money and life in the spotlight, Madison bows down at the celebutante altar. But she wins you back and then some with her Nancy Sinatra electro-twang and sultry appeal on “Hot Hot Love” (below) closing it out with a ditsy-fun cheerleader chant.

Read the rest and download two tracks on OMN.

Friday, November 26, 2010

q/a : from porto to portland : remix artist collective goes live as rac djs

If you download music, a lot of free, legal music, then your media library is full of the innumerable remixes that go along with every new release.

In the days of Napster, the internet was already overflowing with mp3s but today’s technology has made everyone with a laptop capable of remixing another and posting it for the world. Proliferating the current, over-abundant remix phenomena is strong sense of cohesion and camaraderie between up-and-coming musicians. One artist will remix another and then the second artist will cover the first artist’s hit single after he or she has just remixed somebody else, and on and on forever.

Radiohead, like they often are, were notably a frontrunner in this trend. After offering the digital download of 2007′s In Rainbows for a pay-as-you-wish price, the band released the long-awaited-to-be-recorded “Nude” as the album’s second single and immediately launched a remix competition. Offering the stems for download on iTunes, fans could obtain the individual guitar, drums, bass, vocals and strings tracks, and the final remixes were posted and voted on. It’s now become standard that everyone from U2 to John Legend to Bloc Party will have various remixes of their latest songs floating around the internet free for download.

So whether you’re following one of countless music blogs, aggregators, Stereogum, The Hype Machine, RCRD LBL, or Pitchfork’s Forkcast, you likely have a RAC Mix in your music library and you don’t even know it.

Go ahead, search your iTunes for “RAC Mix.”

Obliviously, mine turns up no less than 10 results tagged with “RAC Mix”–some for artists I’ve never even heard of (or at least don’t recall downloading a mp3 of) and some of infinitely famous acts. Some remixes have become totally ingrained into my head, so permanent that I don’t even recognize the original, the album version, as being the song the artist intended.

The reason for this is Remix Artist Collective remixes are extensions of an artist’s catalogue. From Porto to Portland to Paris and NYC, the current RAC lineup includes founder/coordinator Andre Allen Anjos, producer/engineer/mixer Andrew Maury, and songwriter/producer/DJ Karl Kling–past RAC collaborators have included Aaron Jasinksi (Seattle) and Chris Angelovski aka “Crookram” (The Netherlands). The current trio produces an amazing number of remixes–”depending on how busy we are, we will often complete a remix in 3-7 days”–but pure quantity is not what RAC is about. Their style strays from the ubiquitously generic thump-thump-thump of Oakenfold/Tiësto/Van Dyk Euro club mixes, rather aiming to reconstruct and expand upon a song’s original structure by modifying the arrangements, adding danceable, hip-hop drum samples, synth sequences, melodic hooks, and fresh instrumentation by RAC members.

From the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Empire of the Sun and Holy Ghost!, Kings of Leon, U2, The Gossip, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Bloc Party, Tokyo Police Club, and Ra Ra Riot to Portland’s own The Pragmatic (which includes Anjos and Kling) and Hockey, the Remix Artist Collective has remade them all. They’ve been featured everywhere, from major indie music blogs like Brooklyn Vegan to mass media outlets like AOL’s Spinner.

From production (for two years Andrew Maury was the front-of-house sound engineer for Ra Ra Riot as well as co-producing/engineering 2010′s The Orchard) to appearances in film (the soundtrack to the 2010 Sundance selection Holy Rollers), TV (Entourage, 90210), and advertising (Verizon, NBA, Coca-Cola, JCPenney), Porto, Portugal’s Andre Anjos and Portland’s Karl Kling (“officially the newest addition” to the international collective) have most recently formed RAC DJ after four years of studio remixes. Taking their impeccable tastes on the road begging this fall, the RAC DJs are back home (and home away from home) on Saturday, December 4th at Portland’s Whiskey Bar.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

q/a : brent amaker + the rodeo is ‘here to kick your ass’

By nature, cowboys are badasses. Look it up in Merriam-Webster. It says: A rugged American dude that rides around on a horse ropin’ cattle, shooting pistols, and a slugging whiskey while wearing leather and a distinctive, wide-brimmed hat that ass kicker. And FREEDOM. Plus there’s a picture of John Wayne.

Now that’s a fact. So what happened to all our country cowboys?

For years, at an increasingly alarming rate, Nashville has been giving us country music about Bud Light, break ups, and tricked out pick ups. Songs are more likely to be about NASCAR than real struggle or strife–unless the salon got your highlights wrong–and freedom comes prepackaged in tacky, flag-waving odes, no longer reflections of “Prison Blues.”

Besides, where’s the excitement? The bravado, decadence, and romance embodied by a real man’s man? Where’s the Wild American West? Well it’s still here, from the wettest, northern stretches of the American West, in the form of Seattle’s Brent Amaker & The Rodeo.

The noir cowboys, forever dressed from head to toe in black, are equal parts Johnny Cash and Sergio Leone along with those dusty gems found on Tarantino soundtracks and a reputation for boisterous, whiskey-infused shows where B.A.R Brigade supporters encourage even more debauchery by emulating the Rodeo’s style. Their live sets often feature burlesque dancer Bunny Monroe or the you-gotta-be-there-to-see-it “Whiskey Baptism.” And Portland will get their chance to experience this live show that is a show, pulling as much from Devo and Bowie as classic country, when Brent Amaker & The Rodeo play the second to last date of their current tour at the Mt. Tabor Theater on Sunday, November 14th.

With cocksure confidence from three years of touring the US and Europe, B.A.R. just released their third album Please Stand By on October 19th, and on this one, Brent Amaker could almost make you believe he’s turned sympathetic, a romantic of sorts on “Garden Of Love,” until he makes you to “Saddle Up” and shut up on “Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk” like a backhand me across the face, proving he’s 100% badass on “Man In Charge” or “Sissy New Age Cowboy” (below), from their 2006 self-titled debut album and the testosterone-titled, pre-album taster Pink EP.

On Please Stand By, Brent Amaker & The Rodeo go from patriot to ring leader to Don Quixote to free wheeler to narcissist in just over 30 minutes all fueled by cheeky, pointed lyrics, but does Brent Amaker care to explain himself? Simply put: “No.”

So then, who is Brent Amaker? Is he a hardass or a softie?

Hardass, unless I’m dealing with a lady. Dudes can suck it up and handle themselves.

Read the rest and hear tracks from B.A.R. on OMN.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

road journal : q/a with nick jaina before his homecoming

The Nick Jaina Band is Nick Jaina, but really, it’s never just Nick Jaina. Constantly surrounded by shifting cast of characters, the real constant in the rotating and evolving band is the incredibly tuneful, namesake bandleader. Jaina has a penchant for alt-folk melodies that pop enough to stick in your subconscious and a knack for also evoking a heartfelt, emotional response from the same song.

With seven albums under his belt, the songwriter’s band has featured members of Loch Lomond, Laura Gibson, Jolie Holland and Y La Bamba (including friend Sean Flinn), and his latest release A Bird In The Opera House, which came out on April 13th, 2010, included the 2010 PDX Pop Now! compilation track and first album single “Sleep, Child.”

Jaina’s already been around the Western US and home (like at City Hall) with his newest, but since the beginning of October, Jaina and Co. have been enjoying the freedom of the wide open road while Jaina himself has been thinking about his next projects, including a ballet and a “new album featuring ten great women singers,” even if feeling a bit like Marty McFly at times.

Finally returning home, Nick Jaina shares the Alberta Rose Theatre’s stage with Grand Hallway and The Mukluks on Tuesday, November 16th.

Who is in the band on this tour?

This tour we’ve had John Whaley (Pancake Breakfast) on trumpet, Andrew Zilar (Lions & Eagles) on drums, William Joersz (Shoeshine Blue) on upright bass, and Thomas Paul (who plays in an eponymous band) on electric guitar. And then we found Stelth Ulvang from Denver’s Dovekins on the streets of New Orleans, shoeless and holding an accordion, so we asked him to ride with us and learn our songs.

Where have you been?

We’ve gone clockwise around the country. Across the High Plains, up into the Laurentian Upland, down through the Atlantic Seaboard Lowland Section, into the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (try the catfish Po-Boys!) back across the lower High Plains, and we’ll proceed through the agricultural bounty of the former desert known as California.

And what have you seen on this trek?

We played in a prison in Umatilla and every inmate shook my hand after the gig. We saw a harpy eagle at the Boise Birds of Prey refuge. We ran into Poppa Neutrino, the happiest man in the world, and helped him launch his home-made raft into Lake Champlain so that he could begin his two-year circumnavigation of the world. We saw where Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, and toured the U.S. Capitol, where it would’ve crashed if not for the brave people on the plane.

Read the rest on OMN.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

q/a : making a living on mackintosh braun

Ian Mackintosh and Ben Braun are in tune with each other. The two finish each other’s sentences and more importantly, each other’s thoughts. Those thoughts often come in the form of sleek, interwoven electro-pop.

“We’ve worked together so much now that we finish each other’s thoughts or we think of it [the same thing] right as they’re saying it,” explains Ben.

“Yeah, we’re in that groove now where we write really well together,” adds Ian.

But being “in that groove” is nothing new. The Portland duo has been working in this fashion since 2006 when Ben’s father casually passed a tape of Ian’s music on to Ben. “I heard the music and freaked out and got a hold of Ian,” says Ben. “We linked up and pretty much hit it off. We started writing right away.”

“And working on music immediately,” continues Ian. “We had an affinity for the same things, even right off the bat. Fast forward four years now, we still have that same affinity for the same things.”

Ben moved to Portland from New York around age ten, and Ian was born in LA but “worked my way up the I-5 corridor and wound up in Portland a little after high school.” Now in their late twenties and early thirties, the two have just released their second self-produced and recorded album, but this time around they are signed to a label, the taste-making Chop Shop Records, a division of Atlantic (alongside a new LA to PDX transplant Anya Marina). Pulsating with cool, danceable electronics, Where We Are came out on September 21st and has solidified the band’s synthpop status fronted by opening single “Could It Be.”

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

mayer hawthorne’s new soul stands on its own

Everyone’s favorite falsetto-crooning, white-boy soul singer Mayer Hawthorne is making his way back to Portland, this time headlining his own gig at the Aladdin Theater on Tuesday, November 9th with retro-electro, ’80s R&B-funk-rap geek Gordon Voidwell opening.

The rapping, record collecting DJ fell into his current role as purveyor of hip-hopped Motown straight outta Michigan by accident. Stones Throw head honcho Peanut Butter Wolf heard some tracks of him goofing around in his bedroom and asked for an entire album. When that debut, A Strange Arrangement, dropped just over a year ago even Snoop Dogg approved.

Following his instincts, Mayer Hawthorne’s only pursuit is making original music–”just trying to make music that’s timeless”–yet kindly pays homage to the past and that past is heavily influenced by the Motown soul and Detroit jazz that Mayer grew up on. After several stops through the NW in the past year, including opening for Passion Pit at the Roseland and playing the mainstage at Sasquatch, Mayer Hawthorne and The County will side-step their way into your heart with their soulful grooves and synchronized dance steps, all rounded out with a small dose of hip-hop. We just hope there are horns this time around.

The latest cut from Mayer is “No Strings,” which was produced by Classixx, plus peep his interview-mixtape Mayer Hawthorne’s Firsts, selected by Mayer and mixed by DJ Lady Sha.

Read the rest on OMN.